Have you found yourself living abroad (perhaps as the “trailing expat spouse”) or travelling the world and wanting some extra cash or ways to fill in your day? With the advances in technology, there are a multitude of freelance jobs you can now do from almost anywhere in the world. Here are ten ideas to give you food for thought.
The digital nomad lifestyle of working online while living abroad or travelling the world has experienced an enormous surge in popularity and recognition in recent years. Many digital nomads do most or all of their work freelance. The benefits of this way of life are certainly tempting: having the flexibility to work when and where you want to, enjoying the freedom of working for yourself, embracing travel as a long term lifestyle rather than something you get to indulge in once or twice a year at most. It can be challenging at times, especially if you are used to having a stable 9-5 and haven’t worked for yourself before. But if you’re someone who loves to be constantly moving around and seeing new places, the feeling of liberation cannot be beaten. And the good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to do freelance work online in numerous different fields. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1) Online English teaching
English schools all around the world, particularly in some Asian countries like China, are increasingly hiring their staff online. It makes sense for the language schools as it is cheaper and easier for them to hire online than to attract native speakers to live overseas long term. Teaching online can be very rewarding. You get to meet people from all over the world and help them improve their level of English, which in many countries is a very valuable skill that can really open doors, but for you is the most natural thing in the world. There are a lot of options when it comes to online English teaching – you can teach adults or children, groups or individuals, and the class style can range from casual conversation practice to following a textbook. For most jobs you will need a reasonably good quality webcam, a headset and a strong internet connection (having your connection cut in and out during a class is obviously a no-no). You are usually not required to speak the students’ native language. Some companies to check out include DaDaABC, Myngle, Lingoda and italki.
Of course you can still teach English in the flesh. John shared his experience teaching english in China here.
Skilled writers will likely find plenty of freelance jobs in the area of online copywriting. Copywriting initially referred to creating advertising copy, but it’s now often used as an umbrella term for a huge variety of different types of writing in many diverse areas. It can involve writing, editing and/or proofreading. Working freelance online will often involve creating web content, so knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation) is advantageous. For those who don’t yet have experience, UpWork is a great place to get started with some small projects and build a portfolio.
3) Admin assistant
Administration is another area of work that is increasingly going online. For many businesses it makes more sense to hire a freelancer online to do admin tasks as needed than to pay a full time admin assistant to come to the office. Online admin work varies greatly but could involve tasks like making and answering phone calls, responding to emails, organising appointments and maintaining online files. You can find plenty of opportunities in this area on UpWork.
4) Blogging and content writing
Setting up your own blog and making money from it is certainly possible, but it requires a great deal of hard work and dedication over time to make your blog into a real source of income. If this doesn’t sound like something you’re willing to do, you may be able to find freelance jobs as a content writer creating articles for already established blogs or websites. If you’re a decent writer and have experience or expertise in a particular area there will surely be a blog out there that you can contribute to. Some of the vast number of topics with large blogging communities include travel and expat living, parenting, fashion, food and music. You can search blogging and content writing jobs on sites like ProBlogger and BloggingPro (if you can get past their confusingly similar names). An easy way to start getting followers is to use easy to build webpages provided by companies like Leadpages.
5) Digital marketing
If you know a thing or two about how brands can develop and maintain a strong online presence, freelance digital marketing could be for you. You will likely find more opportunities if you are an expert in SEO and social media marketing. Experience with email marketing is also a plus. However, even if you don’t have much experience, being social media savvy and sales-minded could be enough to get your foot in the door for some entry level positions. Again, UpWork is a good place to start looking for freelance jobs.
As we have becoming increasingly reliant on computers in our professional and personal lives, many of us have become very fast typists, a skill which lends itself very well to the field of transcription. Online transcription essentially involves listening to an audio recording and creating an accurate transcript. You can find work with websites like TranscribeMe or Rev. You can apply to be a general transcriptionist to make transcripts of a variety of different materials covering different topics, or to the more specialised areas of legal and medical transcription, which will often earn you more money.
If you’re bilingual there are plenty of online opportunities to work as a freelance translator. While a translating qualification will certainly help you, it’s not necessarily a requirement to get started as long as you are fluent in both languages. Jobs can range from companies that have a presence in more than one region and require regular accurate translations of web content, to people who just need a once-off translation of a particular document for a set fee. You can browse listings on UpWork or sign up to an online translation service like Gengo.
This is another one that’s great for people who speak more than one language, but there are also some opportunities for people who only speak English. You just have to be able to copy down exactly what you hear using punctuation guidelines, as well as time the text to match the audio. Organisations like Amara hire people to create subtitles for various types of videos, for example YouTube series. You will be required to provide some examples of videos you have subtitled using their online platform, so you might like to spend some time practicing before applying. This could just be English subtitles for videos in English, or other languages too.
9) Online tutoring
If you have or are currently studying for a university degree, you might find that you are eligible for some online tutoring jobs in your area of study. Think about what your strongest subjects are/were to be able to market your expertise effectively. Tutoring can be for primary school, high school or uni students.Possible starting points for online tutors include MyWebTutor and eCoaches.
10) Customer service
Many companies are now also hiring customer service staff online. Positions could include web or phone based work, such as answering questions via the chat function in an online store or answering phone calls via Skype. Depending on the company, it could either be an advantage or a problem if you are in a very different time zone to where the business is based. This is another popular category for online freelance jobs on UpWork.
As freelance jobs online rapidly grow in popularity, it is also becoming much easier. In many popular expat and tourist destinations you will find resources to make getting your online work done easier, like cafés with fast wifi and co-working spaces. Of course it can still be hard work and it’s a lifestyle that’s certainly not for everyone. But if you can make it work it’s a wonderful feeling to know that your business can go with you wherever you decide to travel, and that you will have a stable source of income to help you continue exploring.